22 Miles of Confidence

Yesterday I ran 22 miles- my last really long run before Tucson.  I spent the week mentally psyching myself up for this run- getting myself excited rather than dreading it.  Let me tell you, that was HARD!  It’s so much easier to mentally grasp running 26.2 miles for an actual marathon, but getting yourself psyched up about a 22 mile training run, well, that took more work for me.

Luckily, I had two running buddies joining me for the run and I mapped the route in WDM for a change in scenery.  That said, I only have mysefl to blame for how hilly the course was that we ran!  Whew!

We met at Raccoon River Park at 6:30 am.  We started with the 3 mile loop around the lake and then started off towards 63rd.  1st stop- Quick Trip at mile 5. (of course, I also conveniently planned a route lined with gas stations for any necessary pit stops 🙂 ) We had to keep pacing ourselves- we were finding ourselves creeping up to an 8:20/8:30 pace and we still had a LONG way to go!  Our goal was to hold a 9:00 pace for this run.

We turned down Ashworth and tackled our first hill- it was seriously a mile uphill- ugh!  Again, I kept telling myself, no one to blame but myself for that 🙂  So, I took it slow and easy.  Ashworth is lined with “rolling” type hills, so it really was a great training course for Tucson.  I also got to practice more of my downhill butt-kicking technique along the route.  Conversation was steady and by the time I knew, we were already at mile 11- halfway done!  And, time for pitstop #2 at Kum & Go.  I needed to refill my water bottle.  My running buddy suggeted adding a 3 mile loop through a neighborhood off of Jordan Creek Pkwy so that we didn’t have to loop the lake at Raccoon River again at the end so we turned off down a side street and were greeted with… another monster hill.  Joy!  He pulled ahead of- truly an inspiration to watch!  My running buddy KILLS hills uphill- I hope to be in that good of shape in the future!  I was smiling watching him- seriously an inspiration to me.  At this point, I did slow down a bit.  This added loop was hilly, the wind had kicked up, and I didn’t have a clue where I was.  I found out that I did NOT like not knowing the route… I didn’t think we were ever going to wind our way back out of that dang neighborhood!  Finally, we did and we were back on route on Mills Civic.  Now, I knew where we were going and how much further we had left to go.

Pitstop #3 at Casey’s- another water bottle refill.  We were at mile 16 and it hit me that I was actually feeling GREAT and oddly enough, I was having FUN!  Two things I definitely did not expect to feel at mile 16 🙂  My running buddy originally had said that he did not want to do a progressive run this week, so we were just going to take it steady all the way.  But, he started to pull ahead at a faster pace at this point and I kicked it up to stay in step with him.  No mental monkeys this weekend- I was feeling great, I am in great shape, and I know it!  We kept about an 8:30/8:40 pace for the next few miles.  Around mile 19, my running buddy kicked it up again- he pulled ahead of me and I kicked it up but knew I was not going to keep pace with him.  For the next 2 miles, my goal was to keep him in sight and push myself harder.  At mile 21, I kicked it up to a full sprint as I entered back into Raccoon River Park.  I looked down during this mile sprint and saw that I was at an 8:00 pace!  And I still felt- well, ok not great, but pretty good!  I just kept telling myself to run run run!  I can puke later if I need to!

For me, this was an amazing run and exactly what I needed to feel going in to Tucson.  I know what my strategy will be- to tackle Tucson as a progressive run, take it easier the first half and then, listen to my body, if I feel great at mile 15- kick it up, push it, work through any mental barriers, and God-willing, sprint it as fast my legs will carry me the last mile to the finish line.  After running a 22 mile progression run like I did yesterday, I proved to myself that I have it in me.  Last night, I was not sore.  Today, I am not sore… so that tells me too that I have more to give in Tucson…

I know, I have spent a LOT of time over-thinking this race and my training and my strategy to run the race… and I know I am a complete dork because of how excited I am about all of it.  And, I don’t really care- I am having FUN!  Do I think I’ll BQ in Tucson?  Probably not… but I’m on a great training schedule, my speedwork is coming along, I know what I’m doing now (well, most of the time… ha!), and a BQ will be coming in my future… 🙂

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